Intensity High, Track Teams Collect MedalsBy Alisha Schor
Windy conditions at Springfield College made for slower times at last Saturday’s NEWMAC Outdoor Track Championships, but the intensity of competition was unaffected.
The men’s team won their six-team competition with the help of six first place finishes and seven in second. MIT also grabbed the top three places in both pole vault and the 3000 meter steeplechase, and a host of deeper scoring places.
“Springfield was favored to win the meet, and historically they are much better at home than away,” said Men’s Head Coach Halston W. Taylor. “We knew we had to be prepared for their intensity... by stepping ours up so that we performed higher than our seeds across the board.”
While the win was a true team effort, pulling points from all but three of 20 events scored, there were several individual performances of note. First place finishes included Zachary J. Traina ’05 in the 200 meter dash, pole vaulter Nathan B. Ball ’05, and Carlos A. Renjifo ’04 in the steeplechase.
“The performances of the meet were undoubtedly: Robbie [A. Bryant ’07] running a [personal record] placing third to give us 1-2-3... Spencer [C.] Dudley [’07] coming through big in the 10k to get second, Uzoma [A. Orji ’06] winning three events and the vaulters successfully facing the challenge of the cross winds to go 1-2-3,” Taylor said.
An indoor All-American in both throwing events, Orji pulled through some early season struggles to win the discus, shot put and hammer throw.
“This season hadn’t been going particularly well for me, but [Saturday] was hopefully the beginning of a new season. I’ve been working on my turns in the hammer and it showed today,” Orji said.
On the women’s side, Wheaton College continued their trend as the victors, having been the only NEWMAC champions in the meet’s history. MIT beat the on-paper predictions by grabbing 101 points for fourth place, 23 points out of third.
“There was a lot more the MIT’s fourth place finish than just the numbers: people competing in many events, others running after recovering from their injuries,” co-captain Martha W. Buckley ’04 said.
Buckley herself sat out most of the meets with back problems, with last weekend’s competition being her first of the season. Buckley took fourth in the 5000 meters.
Top placers for the women included Chinwe P. Nyenke ’04 taking first and second in the triple jump and long jump, respectively, and Andrea Staid ’07 finding a thrilling last gear in the final 200 of the 800 meter race, to out kick Mt. Holyoke’s Johanna Thomas for the win and a rookie record.
With an additional two teams in the women’s meet, though, scoring went to eight places, and the lady Engineers accumulated a considerable amount of points by having several competitors in each event.
The strong winds hampered all events and prevented most from having peak performances. Nevertheless, the MIT women were able to record over a dozen personal records at the meet.
Next week, individual qualifiers from the men’s and women’s squads will compete at the New England Division III Championships. The women’s team will return to Springfield for the third week in a row, while the men travel to Williams College.
The meet will mark the beginning of more individually focused meets, where each successive week will be marked by a diminishing roster as standards become progressively more competitive. Both teams will be attempting to send as many athletes as possible as far into the post-season as possible.
“We do not have the championship depth to successfully defend our New England Division III Championship. Our primary focus is to raise the level of intensity...After that we are seeing what we can do to get our national people ready to perform at the All America level,” Taylor said.